Okay so arriving at my Publishers Weekly desk today, I found the following:
And what do you think was in these two boxes?
Several other people we know were shipped copies from Amazon as well.
So…in the end, this was just a writer promoting a book via sending out copies. Nothing sinister. We’re guessing that jumping up the Amazon chart was a byproduct, not a goal. The real, bigger story is just how many copies does it take to shoot up the Amazon chart, anyway? It probably isn’t 1000.
UPDATE AND FINALE: aaaaaaaand we just got this email from Ivory Madison herself:
Hi Heidi, I would never have known it hit #10 or had proof if you hadn’t noticed and taken a screenshot, so I am really grateful. I wasn’t even sure you knew who I was last week. By the time I heard about your blog post the next day from Ed Catto (who, by the way, is reviving the Captain Action franchise at http://www.captainactionnow.com/about.html), I rushed to pull it up and it had fallen to #23, but was still #1 in “Comics & Graphic Novels,” as well as #1 on subcategories “Superheroes” and “DC Comics,” so I got screenshots of those, too. You broke the news, even to me.
The real end result of all this, is that the picture that’s going over my desk is of Chavez giving Obama my book. That will be the enduring change to my life. That really made my week, more than the Amazon thing. Thanks to you for that and to Christian Dumais for noticing this important piece of international diplomatic news. I also enjoyed reading the comments, from savvy marketing plans to the guy who had people passionately claiming that Huntress: Year One is better than Watchman. I disagree, but if any of those people are in San Francisco or New York (I’m bicoastal…although my Amazon ranking issue was not related to any bicoastal content in Huntress), send them to me and I will take them to lunch.
Okay, so as you know, I founded Red Room (http://www.redroom.com), a community of authors, and I do know something about book marketing. The problem is that even when you know what to do, having the time or money or organizational skill to do it is another thing.
Many successful authors send out coordinated email blasts to friends linking to Amazon in the hopes that a high response rate will not only help sales and create buzz, but can also give a book a temporary spike in ranking, which can create even more buzz. Around the time of an email blast like that is a good time to also send out review copies and gift copies to loyal fans, industry types, opinion leader friends, whomever you think will like it and talk about it.
So I sent out emails encouraging friends to buy the book, and I have bought a lot of copies from random comic book shops and bookstores I’ve walked into, and from Amazon, over the past two months, which I’ve paid for out of my pocket. I finally got it together in these past two weeks, kind of late considering the book was released two months ago, to send copies to a list of friends and colleagues I thought might review it or talk it up. I’m glad this had the added effect of giving me rankings screenshots that no one takes seriously, but are fun. Amazon says they hope we find their rankings “interesting!” which indicates it’s more like gossip than statistics.
I haven’t checked yet with DC Comics to see what my overall sales are, which is much more important than a momentary Amazon sales ranking, and I’m kind of afraid to ask because I don’t think they’re very high. I’ve been really lucky having so many people get passionate about this book, and lucky I found the time to do a little promotion, although I did screw up many of the emails I sent out. I even got on Twitter. If anyone does know how to get Ashton Kutcher’s attention to promote my book, please do.
Also, I saw the piece today on Anne Cleveland and loved it. I promise to read you every day now. Thanks again.